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Volunteer Tutors - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be a volunteer tutor if I have no background in teaching or tutoring?

Yes! VLP doesn’t require experience in the field. VLP provides preparation and ongoing support for volunteer tutors. A high school diploma is required; college is preferred. Participation in the VLP Tutor Preparation is required and the school system requires that all volunteers undergo the FCPS background check, which VLP facilitates for tutors.

What kind of commitment is expected of volunteer tutors?

VLP asks for a commitment of at least 90 minutes, once per week, for at least 3-9 months. Most tutoring assignments fall within this timeframe. Tutors, together with assigned learners, mutually decide what day and time works best.

Do I need to participate in any kind of training before I get started tutoring?

Volunteer tutors are required to participate in VLP’s Tutor Preparation, which consists of the completion of five brief online modules, and attendance at VLP in-services held in September and April. Customized tutor support and guidance is continued with each new learner assignment.

What subjects am I expected to tutor?

Most VLP learners are adults who want to obtain their high school credential and need to improve their reading, writing, and/or math skills in order to perform high school-level work.  There is a growing need for tutoring in other high school subjects such as science and social studies.  VLP learners also include adults who have a high school credential but still need to improve their reading, writing, and/or math skills in order to perform post-secondary work, such as at Northern Virginia Community College (a goal for many), or to get a better job. Learners who participate in VLP must have basic English language skills, and basic reading, writing and math skills. Those who do not are referred to other programs to first acquire those basic skills.

What types of volunteer assignments are available?  

What types of volunteer assignments are available? 
VLP is the support arm of FCPS’s three adult high school completion programs: the Fairfax County Adult High School, the National External Diploma Program and the GED® Testing and Adult Basic Skills (ABE)/GED® Classes programs

VLP is the support arm of FCPS’s three adult high school completion programs: the Fairfax County Adult High School, the National External Diploma Program and the GED® Testing and Adult Basic Skills (ABE)/GED® Classes programs. The following are examples of volunteer assignments:

    1. Individual tutoring with one adult learner. Tutors are asked to meet once a week in a Fairfax County Public Library. Select a library that is most convenient, and meet within normal library hours. (According to VLP policy, tutors must meet their learners in a public place, and never in a home or other private setting.)
    2. Work with a teacher in a classroom or in labs. Tutor once a week at the Fairfax County Adult High School in regular high school classes or labs, such as English, basic math, Algebra, Geometry, science and social studies. Work with the instructor, class textbooks, and curriculum to help teachers individualize instruction and small groups. Daytime classes are held at the Pimmit Center in Falls Church; evening classes are held at Woodson High School.
    3. Work with National External Diploma Program. Support learners by providing tutoring in reading, writing, math and technology skills necessary to accomplish their tasks in this individualized, portfolio-based program.
    4. Tutor school aged students (14-18) in daytime alternative high school programs. Programs include classes in the Nontraditional Schools Programs (NSP) and at the Juvenile Detention where court-involved youth obtain their high school education in non-school settings.
    5. Work with Adult Basic Education and GED® preparation. Work with students in class or with individual learners in libraries.
    6. Tutor in the GED® and English for Speakers of Other Languages program at the Adult Detention Center. There are many classes which need the help of caring volunteers, and individual tutors for day and evening assignments.

How does VLP match a tutor?

The learner or teacher contacts VLP and requests a tutor.

The learner or teacher contacts VLP and requests a tutor.

VLP conducts an assessment of the learner’s or teacher’s needs.  For individual learners, the assessment includes goals and detailed information on learner availability, as well as current reading, writing and math skills.  The VLP specialist then creates a Tutor Packet with books, supporting materials and a learning recommendations for the tutor based on the learner’s goals and needs.

For both individual and classroom assignments, VLP searches the database for a tutor who meets the requested needs of the assignment, including mutual availability, location, and subject. If the tutor accepts, the assignment is made. The tutor then contacts the newly assigned learner to schedule the first meeting date and time.

For individual assignments, VLP delivers to a library’s circulation desk the Tutor Packet as described above. The packet is filed by the tutor’s last name and is retrieved by the tutor prior the first scheduled meeting from the Circulation Desk or “Holds” shelf (varies by library). 

How do I know where to begin with my individual learner?

VLP will discuss the possible assignment with you prior to you accepting the new match.  A learning recommendation, based on VLP’s initial assessment, will be included in the Tutor Packet, along with books and other materials pertinent to the learner’s goals.  The learning recommendation will highlight areas of study along with how to use the materials included in the Tutor Packet.  The VLP specialist provides ongoing support via email or phone in how to successfully use materials and work with learners. 

What kind of support can I as a volunteer tutor expect from VLP?

VLP provides you with what the tutor needs to get started. The VLP specialist is available to assist you, answer questions, and provide materials throughout the assignment.  At the end of each month, tutors also receive the Hours Request Form via email where goals met, concerns, and materials needed are communicated to VLP staff.  VLP also provides tutor workshops in September and April where volunteers learn more about specific topics and to get to know one other.  And VLP periodically sends out a newsletter - News You Can Use - with pertinent information to help you in your tutoring.

What’s the best thing about volunteer tutoring with VLP?

You get the chance to make a real difference in someone’s life. You’ll experience a learner’s “lightbulb” moment when confusion changes to understanding, when you help those who are struggling with reading comprehension, and enriching a learner’s vocabulary and background for deeper comprehension. You’ll help someone learn the math that they’ve been afraid of for so many years and a struggling writer accomplish the task of constructing a good, solid essay. You’ll work with a learner to acquire the skills to get into college or to get a better-paying job. These, and so many more goals of VLP’s adult learners, will be within reach because of the invaluable assistance of VLP’s volunteer tutors!